Want a better memory? Try eating a Mediterranean diet
Eating a Mediterranean diet can improve your mind, as well as your heart, new research has found.
The main components in the Mediterranean diet include plant foods, such as leafy greens, fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, beans, seeds, nuts, and legumes. Typically, this diet is also low in dairy, has minimal red meat, and uses olive oil as its major source of fat.
Australian researchers have investigated how this way of eating may impact cognitive processes over time through evaluation of papers published over the last five years on the topic, and have found many benefits.
In particular, attention, memory, and language were found to be improved by those following this lifestyle. Memory, in particular, was positively affected by the Mediterranean diet, including improvements in delayed recognition, long-term, and working memory, executive function and visual constructs.
"Why is a higher adherence to the MedDiet related to slowing down the rate of cognitive decline? The MedDiet offers the opportunity to change some of the modifiable risk factors,” said lead author Roy Hardman from the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne."These include reducing inflammatory responses, increasing micronutrients, improving vitamin and mineral imbalances, changing lipid profiles by using olive oils as the main source of dietary fats, maintaining weight and potentially reducing obesity, improving polyphenols in the blood, improving cellular energy metabolism and maybe changing the gut micro-biota, although this has not been examined to a larger extent yet."
He added that the most surprising result of the research was that the positive effects were found in countries around the whole world.
Moreover, the benefits to cognition afforded by the diet were not exclusive to older individuals. Two of the included studies focused on younger adults and they both found improvements in cognition using computerised assessments.
"I would therefore recommend people to try to adhere or switch to a MedDiet, even at an older age," said Hardman.
The study was published in journal Frontiers in Nutrition.